Background: Healthy plant-based diet index (hPDI) is associated with a lower risk of cardiometabolic conditions, but its association as well as interactions with microbiome have not been elucidated.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate the interrelations between hPDI, gut microbiome, and cardiometabolic risk markers.
Methods: hPDI was derived from dietary assessments by a validated FFQ and was examined in relation to metagenomic profiles of 911 fecal samples collected from 303 men aged 71 ± 4 y with an average BMI (in kg/m2) of 25.2 ± 3.6 in the Men's Lifestyle Validation Study. Principal coordinate (PCo) analysis based on Bray-Curtis dissimilarity was conducted, and interactions between hPDI and PCo were examined by using a metabolic risk score composed of blood lipids, BMI, and glycated hemoglobin.
Results: After multivariable adjustment, hPDI was significantly associated with the relative abundance of 7 species and 9 pathways. In particular, higher hPDI was significantly associated with a higher relative abundance of Bacteroides cellulosilyticus and Eubacterium eligens, amino acid biosynthesis pathways (l-isoleucine biosynthesis I and III and l-valine biosynthesis), and the pathway of pyruvate fermentation to isobutanol. A favorable association between hPDI and the metabolic risk score was more pronounced among men with a higher PCo characterized by higher abundance of Bacteroides uniformis and lower abundance of Prevotella copri. At the individual species level, a similar interaction was also observed between hPDI and P. copri, as well as with Clostridium clostridioforme or Blautia hydrogenotrophica (all P-interaction < 0.01).
Conclusion: A greater adherence to a healthy plant-based diet by older men was associated with a microbial profile characterized by a higher abundance of multiple species, including B. cellulosilyticus and E. eligens, as well as pathways in amino acid metabolism and pyruvate fermentation. In addition, inverse associations between healthy plant-based diet and human metabolic risk may partially depend on microbial compositions.
Keywords: diet; metabolic; microbiome; plant-based diet index; species.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.